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Jim Tressel – Say Hi! to Bruce Pearl

And while you are at it, give a shout out to Kelvin Sampson.

Y! Sports is reporting that Tressel knew about players selling memorabilia months before the infraction became public in December, and that he lied to the NCAA about the timeline.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four teammates were found to have sold such items as jerseys and Big 10 Championship rings to the owner of a Columbus Tattoo Parlor. Ohio State claimed that they first heard about the players selling the items on Dec. 8, 2010 when they were informed by the U.S. Attorney General's office that the owner of the parlor, Edward Rife, was under federal investigation. OSU Athletics Director Gene Smith announced at a press conference that nobody at Ohio State knew of the situation until the U.S. Attorney contacted them

"The athletic department was informed on Dec. 8," said Smith.

Citing an unamed source, Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Tressel was informed of the sales last April. Tressel publicly proclaimed that he only learned of the NCAA infractions in December.

The NCAA ruled Pryor and the others suspended for the first five games in the upcoming 2011 season, but allowed them to play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.

Tressel's contract states that if he's aware of a violation or even reasonable suspicion of a violation he must provide written notice to the AD and the compliance office. Tressel could be charged with multiple NCAA violations including unethical conduct, failure to monitor and a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Ohio State could forced to vacate its 2010 season for using ineligible players when it won a share of the Big Ten championship and finished 12-1. It could also face further sanctions for major infractions.

If there is one thing that the NCAA will come down hard on, it is lying to them. Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl was suspended by the SEC for lying to the NCAA about a minor recruiting violation earlier this year, and the NCAA is holding a meeting in July where Pearl could be charged with unethical conduct for misleading investigators over a barbecue at his house when prospective student-athletes were juniors.

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant was ruled ineligible after lying to the NCAA when he was asked if he had visited Deion Sanders' home and worked out with him.

Right now the story rests on an unnamed source and perhaps some circumstantial evidence. Dan Wetzel and Yahoo Sports have a pretty good track record in terms of being in front in collegiate sports investigations (Reggie Bush, North Carolina football & agents, Kansas basketball ticket scandal), so if there is a paper trail out there, they will probably find it.